Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


Bengals: What's it going to be, Zac?

Photo: Getty Images


If anyone is counting, July 27 was 68 days ago. Day 1 on the timeline of Joe Burrow’s calf injury. That’s nine weeks and five days ago. 

How has a calf injury to QB1 derailed an entire offense and seemingly rendered this coaching staff and organization helpless?

This isn’t Joe B. and The Scrubs. This Bengals roster, 1 to 53, is one of the most talented in the entire NFL. Not opinion. Fact. Ask around. 

So, how is this where we are? 1-3 and the least productive offense in the NFL. 

With a season on the brink?  

This version of the Bengals offense has produced three offensive touchdowns in four weeks. My Butler math tells me that’s 16 quarters. That’s 13 points a game. That’s three points scored twice in four games. That’s zero TDs in the first half.

That’s inexcusable. 

Burrow is currently immobile, a sitting duck in the pocket. Did that grind to a halt offenses led by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers?

Burrow clearly can’t get the ball down the field, at least on target. He’s 1 for 22 on throws of 15+ yards in the air. Per ESPN, he’s averaging the fewest yards per attempt through four games in NFL history. 

If Zac can’t scheme around Burrow’s limitations and scheme up to his remaining strengths, what does that say about Zac?

Is Browning better than Burrow? All things equal and healthy. No. An emphatic hell no. But in this moment, it’s a fair question. What current advantages does Burrow have over Browning? Many. NFL game experience. Understanding of opposing defenses and their ever-changing looks. Leadership. 

But Browning is more mobile. He can extend and create. He has to be more accurate than this version of Burrow, whose 57.6 completion rate ranks 32nd in the NFL and is light years off his career rate of 68.2. 

If Zac hasn't prepared Browning, a backup QB in his third year with the organization, who played in all three preseason games, what exactly has Zac been doing the last 68 days while we've all been on 'Calf Watch'? 

If a clearly compromised Burrow is better than Browning, you are telling me the organization has also botched the backup QB position. 

Speaking of botching. Playing Burrow down 27-3 in the 4th quarter to “try to get back in the game” was irresponsible….amateurish…. dangerous… and reckless. 

But I digress. 

What’s it going to be, Zac?

  1. Create a functioning game plan for Burrow and the offense.
  2. Coach up and prepare the backup. 
  3. Look surprised and say those are strange questions, like Monday afternoon's news conference? 

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